Manga Review: Marmalade Boy

Manga Review: Marmalade BoyMarmalade Boy by Wataru Yoshizumi
Published by TOKYOPOP on February 15, 1996
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Scanlation

All Miki Koishikawa wanted was an ordinary family and that's exactly what she had until her parents decided to move in with another couple (as in switching spouses!) and turned Miki's world upside down. Now she lives in a house with four parents and her totally cute stepbrother, Yuu. It's bad enough being brought into her parents' strange soap opera, but Miki will star in a soap of her own as she deals with friends having affairs, trying to survive in school and ending up torn between her long-time crush, Ginta, and her new stepbrother!

For the most part, Marmalade Boy is a sweet shoujo romance series, of the kind I have come to expect from Wataru Yoshizumi. She is one of my preferred mangakas, although not exactly a favorite as a couple of her series really annoy me. Still, she has a really cute art style, likable characters and a fun sense of humor. That is true of this series, however the overarching plot line just makes me so mad. If you want to know why, keep readind, but be aware that there are SPOILERS ahead.

I have read a lot of manga, so I am aware of a lot of the common themes and, from this, I know that the Japanese really love tales of forbidden love. For example, manga plots about student/teacher romances and brother/sister romances are very popular. Both of these are found in Marmalade Boy. Neither is a plot line I particularly enjoy. The former is done with a touch of class, I think, and feels as un-creepy as such a thing can, largely because of the serious maturity of the female student involved.

Sometimes the brother/sister thing is just step siblings, as appears to be the case at the outset of Marmalade Boy. This is somewhat taboo, what with having their names on the same family register, but is totally fine from a genetic standpoint. In Marmalade Boy, Yuu and Miki come to suspect that they may actually be related to one another by blood (half siblings). In response to this, they break up, but then decide that they cannot bear being apart, so they will marry anyway (since they’re not legally considered siblings).

Excuse me? Why would anyone ever do that? They’re not sure if they’re related, but they just go with that assumption. This whole plot line could have been easily nipped at the bud had they just gone to get a blood test. How hard is that? I mean, I hate needles and avoid them when I can, but, for this, I’m pretty sure I would be more than willing to get stabbed with one. Come on, people, use your brains!

So yeah, not my favorite of hers, but you should definitely check out some of the others. Oh, and in case you’re curious about the title, it’s a reference to Yuu and how he seems sweet but is a little bit bitter once you get to know him, like marmalade.


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